CANNES: Malick's 'The Tree Of Life' Finally Debuts – To Mixed Reaction Among Media

While the foreplay between the Cannes Film Festival and Terrence Malick’s complex rumination The Tree of Life has been going on for well over a year, it finally climaxed with this morning’s 8:30 AM press screening. There was such anticipation for this film that the cavernous 2300-seat Lumiere Theatre at the Palais was completely full a half hour ahead of showtime — unprecedented. Reactions afterwards seem to be mixed. There was a smattering of loud boos when the picture went to black at the end, but then good (but not spectacular) applause once Malick’s name came up onscreen. One columnist immediately emailed a friend, “the film is terrible,” while another critic rushed to print calling it “major.”

The movie splits its time between the lives of a family in 1950’s Texas with cosmic images of how the Universe was created, a couple of dinosaur cameos and bigger metaphysical questions about our existence than anyone can answer in a 2-hour, 18-minute movie, even Terrence Malick. It’s not a traditional kind of narrative but rather an experience meant to inspire deep thought about our own lives in a greater context. For those special effects sequences detailing the beginnings of time alone the  three companies whose logos appear at the top of the film (Fox Searchlight, Summit, River Road) should be doing everything they can to insure this gets booked on to every available IMAX screen. It’s a visual stunner, as you might expect from a man whose four previous films were Days Of Heaven,  Badlands, The Thin Red Line and The New World. (more…)

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